Dark Tourism

A collection of exquisite photographs captured in places associated iwth death and tragedy around the world

In 2016 Rebecca Lilith Bathory travelled around the world to 20 countries to visit 100 dark tourist sites in the UK, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Italy, Mexico, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, Poland, Slovakia, India, USA, Indonesia, Ukraine and Cuba, to explore interesting historical areas of these dark parts of our history.

The phrase dark tourism conjures up images and ideas of destinations associated with death, suffering, tragedy and the macabre. This kind of dark tourism is a niche for individuals and groups of like minded people that travel to the same destination for a similar experience, generally recording and taking home images of the unusual places that they visit as souvenirs, a holiday snap with a difference, whether it be dark destinations such as Auschwitz or Chernobyl, the industrial ruins in former Soviet satellite territories, or local ossuaries and cemeteries.

It was only in the 1990s that the term ‘dark tourism’ began to be used for this kind of travel and there was more consideration of the motivation as to why people visit such sites. Recently, more branches of this genre of tourism have been identified. For example, ‘war tourism’ and ‘slavery tourism’.

Photography is an intrusion in the flow of modern society; it fixes and frames and places our view of the world into a different format. Dark tourism is a very visual practice, as is tourism in general; you are not only going to experience the location, but to see it with your own eyes and in most cases photograph it to prolong the moment. In the case of dark tourists taking these still life ‘dark snaps’, the photography captures some of the images, ideologies and horrors which some would prefer to be lost forever.